More than a single story…

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem
with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.
They make one story become the only story.”

– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When I was to leave for DRC a lot of people were very
concerned. My first time to Africa and I was going to the ‘dark heart of
Africa’ The Congo – one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Was I
crazy? Where are you going for research they would ask and I would say ‘DRC!’
The mild response would be a worried look and an awkward ‘Oh’. And a stronger
one would be things like “Do you want to get blown up?” And while this concern
was well intended it was often misplaced, as most of the people who warned me
against coming to DRC had never been there themselves. In fact, the few people
I met, who had been there, had mostly good things to say about the country and
its people.

I come from India I know what the rest world thinks of a
country with a ‘dangerous reputation’. I am aware of what the international
media says about India. Women travellers are now scared to go to India,
exchange students choose other locations, ‘Indian men’ are seen as lustful and
vulgar. Is rape a problem in India? Yes – (But where is it not?) (PS. Read more
about this on my other blog, link at the bottom.)
However, my point is that this is not the only story of India. There are so
many more stories- beautiful, colorful, historic, amazing and fun – that get
lost when a particular negative narrative becomes the only narrative of a

Before coming to DRC, partly because of all the well
intended warnings and partly because of everything I was reading about the
country – I imagined it would be a really scary place, men yielding guns, car’s
exploding, people getting kidnapped, raped and all of this taking place in a
gigantic ball of fire revolving around the dark abyss of the earth! (Ok, this
is a bit exaggerated, but it comes pretty close to my imagination.)

And now that I’m here, it seems quite different. Yes,
sometimes there is a palpable tension in the air in some places and there are
certain places where I’m not allowed to go. But there are also people. Regular
people like you and me – walking around on the streets, buying and selling
goods in the market, going to restaurants with their family, going to
university, getting married, playing with their children, enjoying the sunset –
basically going through the rigmarole of this glorious mess that we call life!
These are the other stories. The ones we don’t hear in the media, read in
academic literature, and policy documents about the country. These are the
other truths and it is this side of this ginormous country that I want to
explore. These are the stories I want to find and share with the world, in no
way to romanticize its problems, which do exist (like everywhere else) but so
that we see more than just one narrative of this beautiful country.

So here, on my blog you will find such stories. I will
update it as I go and I look forward to interesting discussions. And finally, tha’s me among 

Here is the link to my other blog where you can read my
view on the Nirbhaya rape case in India :

Here is the link to Adichie’s TED talk:

This post was also published on Srushti’s Personal Blog where she is documenting her Adventures in Africa :

Srushti is working on SRHR in the Women’s Bodily Integrity team at Oxfam Novib and is currently in DRC investigating/problematising the #menEngage movement as well as researching embodied experiences of NGo workers. She currently studies at the Institute of Social Studies The Hague. To follow her adventures, keep an eye out on the blog! 


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